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Saudi Arabia launches first anti-domestic violence ad

Saudi Arabia has long been known as one of the worst places in the world to be a woman: Under the kingdom's legal system, women are treated as minors and are forbidden from traveling or working without the permission of their male guardians. According to the World Economic Forum's 2012 Global Gender Gap Report, Saudi Arabia ranks 131st out of 135 countries when it comes to opportunities for women.

And yet, there have been small signs of change. Two Saudi women competed in the Olympics for the first time last year, and King Abdullah broke new ground by appointing 30 women to the consultative Shura Council this January. Now the kingdom has its first anti-domestic violence campaign: The ad above is from the "No More Abuse" campaign, which seeks to promote awareness of domestic violence and encourage citizens to speak out when they hear of it. The website promoting the ad features a list of phone numbers for Saudis to call in order to address cases of domestic violence.

The Arabic text in the ad translates roughly as "the tip of the iceberg." The slogan accompanying the English-language version of the ad features a play on words, given the niqab-wearing woman: "Some things can't be covered."

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Mysterious 'Misha' identified: 'I wasn't Tamerlan's teacher'

Last week, the quest to understand the motives behind the Tsarnaev brothers' violent actions took a dramatic turn, as speculation centered on a mysterious Muslim convert in the Boston area who, as one uncle put it, "just took [Tamerlan's] brain" in the years preceding the marathon bombing. "A Bald, Red-Bearded Exorcist Named Misha May Have Radicalized Tamerlan Tsarnaev," New York magazine declared in a roundup of what relatives were saying about the friend who allegedly turned Tamerlan toward radical Islam. News outlets scrambled to locate "Misha," to no avail.

More recently, however, the story has been crumbling. On Saturday, the Associated Press, quoting anonymous U.S. officials, reported that federal investigators had "identified an individual believed to be Misha" but "found no ties to the [Boston] attack or terrorism in general."

And on Sunday, FP's Christian Caryl tracked down Misha, who said that he's been cooperating fully with the FBI and that agents are planning to close his case soon. Here's Caryl's report for the New York Review of Books from Rhode Island:

Today I was able to meet "Misha," whose real name is Mikhail Allakhverdov. Having been referred by a family in Boston that was close to the Tsarnaevs, I found Allakverdov at his home in Rhode Island, in a lower middle class neighborhood, where he lives in modest, tidy apartment with his elderly parents. He confirmed he was a convert to Islam and that he had known Tamerlan Tsarnaev, but he flatly denied any part in the bombings. "I wasn't his teacher. If I had been his teacher, I would have made sure he never did anything like this," Allakhverdov said.

A thirty-nine-year-old man of Armenian-Ukrainian descent, Allakhverdov is of medium height and has a thin, reddish-blond beard. When I arrived he was wearing a green and white short-sleeve football jersey and pajama pants. Along with his parents, his American girlfriend was there, and we sat together in a tiny living room that abuts the family kitchen.

Allakhverdov said he had known Tamerlan in Boston, where he lived until about three years ago, and has not had any contact with him since. He declined to describe the nature of his acquaintance with Tamerlan or the Tsarnaev family, but said he had never met the family members who are now accusing him of radicalizing Tamerlan....

The account is worth reading in full here.

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